The English Invasion of the Italian Language

Jan 25, 2016


Dillo in italiano!

Say it in Italian!

    An Italian friend was telling me about a workshop on fitness that she was planning to attend over the weekend. She was wondering about the dress code, the hotel hosting the event, and whether there would be a break to get a snack. Then she suggested we take a selfie.

    With so many English words sprinkled into her Italian sentences, I wondered if she was speaking Italian or English. “Tutti e due” (both), she laughed, explaining that dropping English words into Italian conversations had become “a trend” (una tendenza) — one that many linguists are trying to change. Their argument: why use English when you can say the same thing in Italian?

    My friend, for instance, could have said she was going to un seminario (di approfondimento) (workshop) on  forma fisica (fitness) over the fine settimana (weekend) and was curious about the abbigliamento consigliato (dress code) and albergo  (hotel) and whether there would a pausa caffè (coffee break). And she could have called our self-portrait un autoscatto rather than a selfie.

    There are no precise Italian equivalents, the leaders of the “Dillo in italiano” campaign concede, for words such as “marketing,” “sport,” “browser,” and “smog.” However, there are corresponding words (parole corrispondenti) for many of the English invaders of la bella lingua. The group urges the use of the following, not as a protest against English, but as “un gesto d’orgoglio nei confronti della nostra amata lingua italiana” (a gesture of pride in regards to our beloved Italian language):

        abstract — riassunto

        appeal — attrazione

        audience — pubblico

        backstage — dietro le quinte

        big — grande

        boss — capo

        brand — marca

        business — affari

        buyer — compratore

        cash — contanti

        coach — allenatore

        concept — idea

        community –- comunità

        copyright –- diritto d’autore

        device -– dispositivo

        display -– schermo

        fashion — moda

        flop –- fiasco

        food — cibo

        gossip -– pettegolezzo

        light -– leggero

        look –- aspetto

        mail -– posta

        make up –- trucco

        match -– partita

        meeting –- riunione

        mission –- missione

        news –- notizie

        open -– aperto

        partner — compagno

        party -– festa

        premier –- primo ministro

        relax –- riposo, rilassamento

        show -– spettacolo

        sexy –- seducente

        staff –- personale

        teenager -– adolescente

        team — squadra

        ticket — biglietto

        web -– rete

    Some English phrases have not won over Italians.  I'm told that Italians  preferiscono essere definiti (prefer to be described), not as “booklovers,” but as  amanti dei libri. I do too.

Dianne Hales is the author of MONA LISA: A Life Discovered, now available in paperback, and LA BELLA LINGUA: My Love Affair with Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language.


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